About 8% of mail-in votes invalid
Nationwide, 7 to 8 percent of postal votes were set aside on Monday due to form errors, Pieter Verhoeve, mayor of Gouda and in charge of elections at the association of Dutch municipalities, VNG said on Tuesday morning. In many cases, the voting pass and ballot paper were put in the same envelope, he said, NOS reports.
"Most people read the instructions for voting by post carefully and voted in the correct way. A small part put the documents together. We are not allowed to open those envelopes because the voting secret must be kept," Verhoeve said.
The instructions for voting by mail stated that voters must put the ballot with their vote in the enclosed envelope marked 'briefstembiljet' and seal it. That sealed envelope plus the voting pass both had to go into a larger return envelope, which was sent in. At the polling station, the return envelope was opened and voting pass checked. If all was in order, the still sealed ballot envelope was placed in the ballot box.
That process started on Monday, after the polling stations closed on the first day of voting at 9:00 p.m. The number of invalid postal votes weren't equally high in all municipalities, Verhoeve said. Some had 4 percent invalid votes, others up to 9 percent. "It would be a great shame if those votes were lost," he said. "I hope that the Minister and Electoral Council see a way within the law to allow these votes to count."
ANBO, the association for the elderly, also hope that the invalid votes can still be counted. "We knew that some of the postal votes would be declared invalid. But we did not expect the number to be so high," director Anneke Sipkens said. "Older people really want to vote, that's how they were brought up. It's sad if their vote is declared invalid."
ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers and PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken also called for the postal votes that contain only a small mistake to be counted. SP parliamentarian Ronald van Raak submitted questions about the rejected votes and asked that votes in which the voting pass and ballot paper were put in the same envelope to be counted.